I’ve reviewed plenty of songs in my short time on this earth. Many of them indie. And I frequently use the word “raw” when describing a song with emotion-heavy lyrics or minimal evidence of electronic production. But Eli Ruffer’s EP Wanna Hear A Song is a whole different kind of “raw.”
Yes, like many indie albums, Wanna Hear A Song lacks that autotune quality that we hear in most pop music. I mean, Ruffer admits to recording it with his laptop in the bathroom of his apartment. But the message itself is raw as well. Not the type of raw that breaks your heart over and over, but an honest raw that makes you do a double-take and chuckle to yourself until you’re actually laughing out loud.
Eli Ruffer’s Wanna Hear A Song is not a ‘heart-wrencher.’ It’s a satire. Ruffer calls himself out and reminds artists of their own fragile egos in a way that doesn’t sting as much as it makes you laugh and feel less alone in your silly insecurities.
The entire EP is just that — silly. Until you get to the very last track. But I won’t spoil it just yet. Let’s take this track by track…
Track 1 — Graham’s In The Bathroom
Here I guess we’re just setting the scene. It’s a 15-second snippet of Ruffer explaining in a cringe-worthy key that Graham is indeed in the bathroom so he will be hearing the recording process. My favorite part is the whisper at the end, “Enjoy buddy.”
Track 2 — Rabbits In The City
This one showcases Ruffer’s instrumental abilities… and his observational skills. Although his voice in this track is (to put it nicely) “raw,” I find myself struggling not to laugh out loud in this Starbucks as the bridge becomes a strangled explanation of a recipe for cooking rabbit. This is the track that won me over. I realized that this EP was going to be full of hilarious surprises.
Track 3 — (You Don’t) Wanna Hear A Song (Part 2)
Don’t ask me why Part 2 comes before Part 1. It just makes it more intriguing. It’s the 49-second inner monologue of a musician who is painfully aware that his audience does not want to be there. I may not be a performer, but I am an over-thinker and this song was so comically relatable.
Track 4 — Graham’s Still In The Bathroom
This one’s pretty self-explanatory… Graham is still in the bathroom, but apparently Eli is becoming bolder in range and production as he overlays his melody with a not-so-pleasant and extremely high-pitched attempt at harmony.
Track 5 — Ode To Writer’s Block
Now this one is a real gem. Anyone in a creative field can relate. When you have writer’s block, sitting down to a blank screen (or sheet of paper) is the last thing you want to do. So what does Eli do? He simply produces his stream of consciousness, no matter how irrelevant or incoherent.
I struggle to come up with words
So I buy myself a new legal pad
It turns out my problem’s not
A lack of things to write on
But now I gotta walk my dogs
Track 6 — Accidental Instrumental (Interlude)
I don’t know if you can call this an actual instrumental because Eli is definitely still there humming and mumbling along. But I will admit it’s a nice break after the cognitive dissonance I experienced at the end of “Ode To Writer’s Block.”
Track 7 — (You Don’t) Wanna Hear A Song (Part 1)
Another observational masterpiece, Ruffer starts to reveal the true motivation behind musicians’ “nonchalant” public display of musicality. You know what I’m talking about.. We all know that one guy that barely knows how to play a guitar but he somehow finds one in a living room and picks it up while you’re trying to have a conservation. And all he really wants is a little affirmation, but he definitely wouldn’t dare ask for it.
Track 8 — (You Don’t) Wanna Hear A Song (Part 2) (Reprise)
You read that right. It’s the reprise of Part 2. The part that came before Part 1.
Facing clockward counting seconds
I’m looking at your bored expression
My heart starts sinking
I don’t know what I was thinking
When I asked to sing
In this reprise you can practically see Ruffer transforming into a turtle. He turns into himself, suddenly hyper-conscious that his captive audience does not in fact want to hear him sing. At all.
Track 9 — Graham Is Gone
It’s a 15-second track. You get the picture.
Track 10 — (You Don’t) Wanna Hear A Song (Part 3)
This is where we finally get a little bit real. All Ruffer wants to do is sing well and receive a little bit of affirmation. And isn’t that what we all want? I know I wish I could sing well. And be acknowledged for it. That would be nice.
I can be a charmer
I can be a jester
But when it really comes down to it
I just wish I could sing
How can I demand attention when
Details escape my planning?
Why would I ask you to listen to me?
The table was full when I got here
So yes, Eli Ruffer is hilarious. His sound isn’t for everyone, but that’s okay. He’s honest. He’s funny. And he reminds musicians and peasants like me that we’ve all got insecurities. Do your thing and laugh it off.
And Eli, just to let you know, I do really wanna hear another song.